State Legislatures Article V Caucus Newsletter

by Stuart MacPhail February, 2019

Congressionally-introduced BBA proposals are already back for the 116th Congress.  Mississippi  US Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith has introduced SJ Res 3.  Alabama Congressman Bradley Byrne has introduced HJ Res 6, and Ohio Congressman Steve Chabot has introduced HJ Res 22.  In Congress, these proposed BBA constitutional amendments are always dead-on-arrival, never even seeing committee hearings.

Meanwhile, on January 14, new Illinois Governor J. B. Pritzker pledged to pass a balanced budget “and take on the state’s ‘challenging’ financial problems with ‘hard choices’” according to Reuters. The report noted that the state’s “precarious financial situation … includes a huge unfunded pension liability and billions of dollars in unpaid bills.  As a result, Illinois’ credit ratings were downgraded to a notch or two above the junk level.”  Instead of detailing how he would balance the state’s budget, Pritzker used the occasion to announce several proposed new spending measures.  Read the Reuters piece HERE.

The January 7 edition of the Wall Street Journal carried a thought-provoking piece entitled Lying Prices Keep America Hooked on Spending.  The writers focus on the thought that “When politicians hide the cost of government, ‘free college’ and ‘Medicare for all’ sound like bargains”. 

They say, “Recent history demonstrates that the price of each new government program rarely tells the whole story.  In the past decade taxpayers were charged $27.2 trillion for federal services that cost $35.6 trillion, adding more than $9 trillion to the national debt. Our tax bills told us that Uncle Sam’s good works were about 26% cheaper than their real cost.”  Read the article HERE.

On January 8 The Hill carried an opinion piece by Georgetown Law Professor David A. Super.  His opinion, entitled The progressive case for pay-as-you-go budget rules claims that “Pay-go requires that any legislation reducing revenues or liberalizing programs that do not depend on annual appropriations must pay for itself with corresponding increases in revenues or tightening of direct spending programs.”

Super describes so-called “pay-go” as having “a constructive role in fiscal management.”  He says, “Deficits are not the economic cyanide that some claim, but neither are our resources unlimited.  Pay-go is far superior to other budget control devices.”

Not a supporter of constitutionally-mandated federal fiscal restraints, Super says, “A balanced budget amendment would permanently lock in austerian (sic) economics….”  Read his wisdom HERE.